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When sophomore Elijah Mims, 15, performed in an active shooter training video for a class project earlier this school year, the Santa Clarita native never thought he'd actually be running for his life.
“We were just preparing for the worst, but we never thought anything would occur in a suburb like Santa Clarita. It’s such a lovely place,” Mims told USA TODAY in a phone interview.
In the instructional video, Mims played the role of a "person who was hiding," later demonstrating to students how they could safely escape an active shooter situation. On Thursday, Mims found himself a few feet away from an armed classmate. He sprinted into an empty classroom, where he huddled quietly with dozens of other students until police entered the room.
The school shooting that killed two and injured at least three people at Saugus High School Thursday comes amid a national debate around how to prepare for and respond to active shooter situations, with some schools and policymakers advocating a range of tactics — from "bulletproof backpacks" to curved hallways.
The debate gained traction following the Feb. 14, 2018, killing of 17 children and school staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after it came to light that the school safety officer on duty failed to confront the gunman. He now faces criminal charges.
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